Players praise Davis' desire to play, are troubled by selfishness

September 08, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

All was quiet in the Orioles clubhouse yesterday. There was little fallout from Monday's verbal free-for-all between manager Johnny Oates and first baseman Glenn Davis, though the situation that triggered it remains unchanged.

Davis remains in uniform, but it seems unlikely that he'll be showing up in the starting lineup any time soon . . . if at all. His frustration may have been understandable -- especially to his teammates -- but his timing again was bad.

Teammates tried to be sympathetic. Davis, after all, has been sidelined by a series of injuries that were not exactly self-inflicted. He has been a victim of circumstances, but he apparently picked the wrong point in the pennant race to question the lineup card.

"I'm happy that he wants to play," said pitcher Ben McDonald, whose preparations for Monday night's start obviously were not disrupted by the altercation. "That's all it shows me. I like that. As you can see, it didn't affect anybody. We went out and played good baseball."

True enough, the Orioles went out on Monday night and extended their winning streak to eight.

"It's been a long season and Glenn has worked his butt off to get back," McDonald added. "You can't fault him for wanting to play."

That was not a unanimous opinion, but those players who were less sympathetic were hesitant to rekindle unhappy feelings at such a upbeat point in the season. That doesn't mean there are not some players who have seen their sympathy for Davis turn to cynicism.

"There has got to be some give and take," one player said. "With him, it's just take, take, take. I don't think it affects the players, because I don't think anyone pays attention to it anymore. But I think it has to be tough on the manager and the coaches."

Monday's clubhouse scene was the most dramatic illustration of the frustration that Davis has both experienced and engendered, but it was not the only one. Oates exploded early last season after getting conflicting reports on Davis' physical condition. More recently, Davis exasperated the coaching staff by showing up late for an early workout in Detroit.

"Everybody saw what happened yesterday, but there have been other things that you just don't know about," a teammate said.

There have been enough things that everyone does know about to leave room to wonder how long this all can go on. Davis appeared to be in danger of getting his unconditional release on Monday night, but general manager Roland Hemond stepped in and cooled down a volatile situation.

"When people get upset, they say things that they later regret," Hemond said yesterday. "Things are OK now. He's on the ballclub."

Nevertheless, it seems likely that the front office will address the situation in the next few days. The Orioles are in a pennant race and the integrity of the manager was challenged in front of everyone in the clubhouse.

"I can't predict the future," Hemond said. "It's a case of how things continue to be, but things were OK last night."

Regardless of what happens as a direct result of Monday's altercation, it is obvious to all -- including Davis -- that his days in Baltimore are numbered.

He told reporters last month that he already had been told by the club that he would not be back next year. That would come as a surprise to no one, considering the return the Orioles got for the approximately $10 million they spent on him the past three years, but Hemond insists that decision has not been made.

"I read that and I don't know exactly where that originated," Hemond said. "I have no clue. Sometimes there is enough speculation that you assume a decision has been made, but we haven't made a decision on anybody."

Not that Davis' continued presence this year necessarily is LTC injurious to the rest of the club. Hall of Famer Jim Palmer was in the clubhouse when the shouting match occurred on Monday and said yesterday that he didn't think it was all that big a deal.

"I don't think that it even matters," he said. "If you look at it objectively, obviously Glenn is not happy with the way his career has gone in Baltimore. Johnny Oates is frustrated with the situation, too. But as far as hurting the club. No one was hurt.

"Glenn was saying that he feels he can still help the ballclub, which is the way he should feel, but Johnny took the other perspective. The club has gotten this far without Glenn and he has to be sensitive to that. Maybe there was some insensitivity on Glenn's part, but it is understandable in his situation. You have to be fair to Glenn. I think he would like to help this ballclub."

Davis has not come to his own defense. His only comment since the incident was that the outburst was the result of his competitive nature.

"That kind of thing is going to happen on a team from time to time," said teammate Rick Sutcliffe, who stepped between Davis and Oates on Monday. "I still don't know what all went into it."

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